If you’re taking a trans-atlantic or trans-pacific flight, it’s inevitable that you’re going to face some long travel days. If you’ve never traveled long distances before and don’t know what to expect, it may be a good idea to do some preparation beforehand.
The first thing to remember is that you’re going to be staying up many hours with very little sleep. This is inevitable, no matter what anyone says. Unless you’re one of the extremely rare types who can straight-up sleep for an entire seven-hour flight as if they were at home in their own bed, you’re not going to step out of the airport well-rested. Do your best to prepare for this. If you plan on taking unfamiliar sleeping pills before the flight, test them out beforehand. Study the time zone difference and when you’re flight takes off and lands. Prepare your sleep schedule to match your final destination’s time zone the best you can. This will help the jet lag.
Bring your meds. If you have any prescriptions, prepare beforehand. If you require insulin or inhalers, keep this with you. With over-the-counter drugs, my go-to “formula” includes separate packs of:
- Ibuprofen for headaches/other minor aches and pains
- Imodium for diarrhea (especially if you plan on eating foods that you’re body is unfamiliar with)
- Antihistamine (Benedrill) for allergies, bites, and stings. Also works as a sleeping pill, make sure you double check the label!
- Cough drops/medicine for obvious reasons
I also try to pack a small medicine kit with various band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and wraps. You probably won’t ever use them, but someone else might.
Watch what you wear. On long flights and train rides, I always try to wear some kind of hoodie so I can wrap myself in it when it’s time to sleep. Underneath, I try to wear a short-sleeve shirt in case it gets warm. In general, it’s always a good idea to prepare for changing temperatures. With pants, it differs depending on what makes you comfortable. I prefer to wear jeans or leggings on long trips, but if sweatpants are more your thing, then by all means. Bringing extra changes of clothes can also be a good idea, as long as you have the room for it.
If you’re flying, keep your toiletries and meds in your carry-on. Double check that you did so when you get to the airport. Then check again.
If you’re feeling stressed, talk to family members back home. Go for a short walk. Do what you have to do. Try the Calm app, if those work for you. Or just download some music. When I’m in waiting areas or on transportation, I like to go over my travel plans while listening to audiobooks. I like to know that I have something to look forward to, and this is simply part of the process.
Long days of travel are necessary, but how you prepare for them can make all the difference. Step back and take a breath, and remember why you decided to do this in the first place